Duplicity (2009)
Duplicity (2009)

Genre: Spy Running Time: 2 hrs. 5 min.

Release Date: March 20th, 2009 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Tony Gilroy Actors: Julia Roberts, Clive Owen, Tom Wilkinson, Paul Giamatti, Rick Worthy

 


 

F

ilms with plots so intricate and fiendishly conceived that they basically have to be spelled out for the audience during the conclusions must have protagonists worth rooting for. That wasn’t a concept writer/director Tony Gilroy heeded. “Duplicity” tries to be too smart for its own good as it unfolds a winding tale of deception and corporate espionage, but fails to lure viewers with characters engaging enough to sympathize with in their elaborate predicaments.

After a not-so-chance encounter in Dubai ends in deceit and regret, corporate spies Ray Koval (Clive Owen) and Claire Stenwick (Julia Roberts) seem destined to have their paths cross – multiple times. Working for opposing global marketing giants Equikrom and Burkett & Randle, Ray and Claire plot out a complex scheme to outsmart and outplay their employers amidst a desperate hunt for a revolutionary new mystery cream (or lotion). Are they teaming up or playing one another for fools?

From Dubai to Italy to London to Miami to Cleveland and then Zurich, “Duplicity” has its leads not only travel back and forth across the globe, but also through the past and present. Constant flashbacks to increasingly smaller segments of time count down like a bomb whose explosion leaves something to be desired. With each previous encounter, a little more is revealed about the protagonists’ master plan, but even when audiences think they finally know what’s going on, there’s one more twist that will change their perception of everything they’ve just seen. Similar to the cons in the “Ocean’s Eleven” movies, but with fewer characters and fewer thrills, “Duplicity” just tries too hard to be clever – and the outcome feels far less refreshing and original than it should have been.

While Clive Owen and Julia Roberts may not exhibit the most alluring of onscreen chemistries, perhaps the fault lies more with the deceptive and often hostile intricacies of their characters’ personality traits – and their subsequently precarious relationship. Due to the nature of their profession, trust is something always questioned and rarely given. Even the occasional exchange of smart dialogue can’t brighten these dismal characters’ minimal charm, or sort out a timeline so fragmented that it makes “Memento” look perfectly chronological.

– The Massie Twins

  • 4/10